Perched on a hill not far north of Boudha, Kopan Gumba is one of the most popular monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism. Each year a large number of foreigners arrive here to study Buddhism and meditation. Kopan Monastery was founded by Lama Thubten Yeshe who died in 1984. Interestingly, a small Spanish boy named Osel Torres became his successor after he was declared a reincarnation of the great Lama. However, the reincarnation does not reside at Kopan anymore.
The spiritual program at Kopan offers introductory level courses in what is known as the Discover Buddhism series, dealing with the basic principles of Tibetan Buddhism and meditation. The series known as the Next Step series, leads on to a deeper exploration of these principles.
Courses deal with Mind Training, Karma, Death and Dying, Bodhicitta, and more. There are 5-day and 10-day courses and a month long course on meditation. There are also short courses on Tibetan medicine, Thangka painting and the very popular 10-day residential courses in Buddhist psychology and philosophy. Courses vary in length and some students spend months at the monastery devoted to their studies. In the past many were housed in tents due to lack of space but now there are enough rooms to accommodate them.
There is a sealed road all the way to the monastery but it is also a pleasant hike from Boudha. People from many different Nepali ethnic groups also join the monastery at a very young age to become monks. These young lads get formal education in math, science and other subjects just as their contemporaries in local schools. The kids are mostly from families who traditionally send one child to become a monk or a nun.